Tag Archives: Brazil

Slow Hostel, João Pessoa

5 Jan

Was just looking through some photos and found this one of my stay at the Slow Hostel in João Pessoa, a hostel I would thoroughly recommend!

Hanging out with some new friends in Slow Hostel, Joao Pessoa

Exploring Florianópolis’s Southern Beaches

10 Oct

The popularity of Florianópolis, an island off Brazil’s southern coast, increases year upon year. Every wealthy Brazilian has a holiday home there, regular flights from Buenos Aires and Montevideo bring plenty of tourists from the more Southern countries and for many travellers heading inland from Rio it’s their last chance of a nice beach. This has led to a tripling of its population in the last 40 years and huge amounts of development on the island. Something, its basic road infrastructure has struggled to deal with – traffic jams are incessant! This has led some to question its ‘beach paradise’ status, but there is hope. Much of that development has been occurring in the North, especially in Canasveiras (full of Brazilian holiday homes) and Barra da Lagoa (a village of gringos and hostels). The South remains largely untouched, and is definitely worth investigating.

Although getting a bus during rush hour could lead to you regretting ever stepping foot on the island, the bus system is actually very effective. Get on any bus and as long as you don’t leave a terminal you can go anywhere you want on the island without paying more than the very cheap initial fee. Taking a bus south will lead you to Armação, where there is accommodation, shops and a cashpoint (the last one for a while!) The Armação and Matadeiro beaches are full of Brazilian families playing frescoball, amateur fishermen with hopeful-looking sticks in their hands and the odd tourist catching some rays, but the real gem is Praia da Lagoinha da Leste, a 3 hour walk along the coast. The route is quite hilly but the view as you round the last bend of the cliff and see the beach open up in front of you is nothing short of breathtaking. It will take another half an hour to get to the beach from the top, by which time you will be ready to dive into the crystal clear water and revel in the fact that you’re most likely one of the few people to be enjoying it.

Taking a further bus south from Armação leads to Costa do Dentro, the last stop. There are a few guest houses here, a hostel and a couple of shops, but little else. Well, little else except for three very charming beaches and a beautiful landscape to explore. I spoke to Marcelo Piccolo, who owns Albergue do Pirata, the only hostel in Costa do Dentro. He says that “the south of the island represents what the island was like in earlier eras. It’s the area which has preserved the majority of its history and culture.” This is why the South is so alluring to me. The North may host the grander parties, with worldwide brands such as Pacha arranging club nights, but the South has the true beauty of the island at its heart. From Costa do Dentro it is possible to follow trails up into the mountains in the far Southern corner. One of these trails leads to a beach called Praia dos Naufragados, another remote stretch of sand that ticks all the boxes in the paradise stakes.

As the island’s population increases the danger is that more development will occur in the South and these claims of preservation will start to become more optimistic than realistic. Marcelo certainly accepts this likelihood but is prepared to fight against it: “There are many people interested in developing on the island, obviously with financial ends. It is up to us to make sure we stop that from happening.” Considering the amount of interest currently in Brazil and the forthcoming World Cup and Rio Olympics now may just be the right time to explore of one of Brazil’s many natural splendours before it disappears.

Trancoso – a secret beach paradise

5 Oct

Trancoso is thought of as something of a secret in the low-season, one for the odd visitor to come and look around. There’s no mistaking it for a secret in the high season. Every local has their own story of meeting Liam Gallagher and Robbie Williams. It is a place where many of the top DJ’s will come to play for nothing; they will do it simply to have a week partying with their friends.

There is a wide range of pousadas in the quadrado and on the neighbouring square, which cater for a wide variety of people. It’s a popular spot for Brazilians to come on holidays and day trips, but it’s for the international tourists that most of these pousadas have been designed. The beautiful El Gordo with its swimming pool spanning to the far wall, giving you the feeling of floating into the ocean, while all the time only being arms length from the bar and a good cocktail (the Caipirinhas are a must).

Hotel de Praça feels more casual but still offers the same level of luxury, as well as some of the friendliest workers you’re ever likely to meet, and it’s contagious. Whether you are staying at a hostel or simply there for the bar and the huge cushions that are spread around its tropical garden, you will walk out with a smile on your face.

The most famous hotel in Trancoso is without doubt Uxua Casa Hotel, designed by Wilbert Das, the creative force behind the fashion brand Diesel. It’s a series of 9 guest cottages scattered around a garden of jackfruit trees. Rustic, warm exteriors hide the slick furniture and fully outfitted kitchens within. All of the guesthouses are made from local materials, many of the walls are made from mud, and this allows it to slip perfectly into the landscape of the town.

Trancoso is a colourful place, with a warm people. They seem to be revelling in the extra income that has come with its status as hideaway for those in the know. Every year seems to bring new boutiques and hotels as word of mouth spreads. For anyone interested, now is definitely the time to go, and relax, and while away the days in that hammock. All those visions of lounging on a beach in Brazil with the best amenities at your fingertips can soon be realised.


Staged contract killing turns into a ketchup catastrophe!

2 Oct

This is the story of a recent case in Bahia, Brazil involving a love rival, a contract killer and a bottle of ketchup. Carlos Roberto de Jesús, a convicted felon, was given a decent pay-off in order to take care of “Lupita”, the love rival of Maria whom Maria wanted rid in order to be with her man.

The only problem was Carlos was a little bit fond of Lupita, who he’d had a bit of a relationship with too, so instead of pulling off the killing as planned he decided to tell Lupita what he had been asked to do, and together they decided to stage the murder.

So Carlos had Lupita lie on the floor with bandaged eyes and hands tied behind her back and then he smeared her with ketchup.

Unfortunately for Carlos he didn’t get to keep the reward of 575 US dollars as he was spotted hanging around with Lupita in the town where Maria also lived! Maria went to the police claiming Carlos had stolen the 575 from her, forgetting about the mobile phone pictures, which somehow resulted in all three of them going to jail, Maria for planning a murder and Carlos and Lupita for extortion.

New Music from Pernambuco

21 Sep

The past few weeks have been spent furiously listening to music from the Pernambuco province of Brazil. The result… this compilation:

Musica de Massa! New Sounds of Pernambuco

It’s been getting some good attention in Brazil and might even sneak a mention in a Sao Paulo newspaper, but we shall see. I’ll keep you all up-to-date.

Skipping straight through to Monday morning

14 Feb

Something had to give. I’d been on my best behaviour since arriving in Brazil, regularly in bed by midnight and getting up at 7.30 in the morning. My excitement in Brazil has been made up almost entirely of my current obsessions with Brazilian music, namely bands like M. Takara 3, Tulipa Ruiz, Lulina and Karina Buhr, all of whom are based in Sao Paulo. So I’ve been spending the majority of my time going to gigs, writing about those gigs, meeting Brazilian musicians and pitching ideas to hugely-underwhelmed editors. In some ways this culminated in some article ideas which I sent to Time Out SP last night for possible inclusion in the March edition.

After I sent the articles off with hopeful spirit, Isadora (who works at the hostel) asked if I wanted to join her for some drinks when she finishes work. Not having broken loose in a while I could only but agree, and so off we went at 2am to see what Sao Paulo has to offer on a Sunday night. We didn’t get too far. This is a city that has to sleep sometime, and Sunday night/Monday morning seems to be that time. After asking countless people getting chucked out of bars up and down Vila Madalena where was open and getting only negative answers we decided the best option was to go to the petrol station and get some beers there.

With a few extra people in tow, including a ridiculously-upbeat Dutch guy who kept asking us if we wanted to get some drugs, and a Brazilian girl who kept asking me to retort lines from the Harry Potter books and then shouting “Harry Potter! You’re Harry Potter!,” each time I followed her orders, we went to the petrol station. Which might seem a little depressing but was actually the best place you could ever go for beers. First off, the beers are a third of the price of beers in the bars, secondly we had our own table and chairs that were parked on the foyer, thirdly this meant we could get into a bit of banter with all the visitors to the station, fourthly we had a decent, clean toilet right next to us (which was always vacant) and lastly, when I told a taxi driver nearby that I was a big fan of Tim Maia (which he was playing in his car) he became our own little soundsystem, parking himself nearby. It was almost as if we had inadvertently started our own little bar on the street.

Heading home at 7.30am after countless beers, when the city is coming to life, was the strangest aspect of all. God knows what the people on the Metro thought of us as we camped out in the corner of the underground train. It’s fair to say we were past caring.

Back in Brazil

8 Feb

Over 9,000km, 11 hours in the air, a series of yellow, brown and grey things disguised as food, one rubbish rom com, an equally rubbish horse racing adventure starring John Malkovich, an hour on the bus, two trips on the Metro, and I’m in the Oca Hostel in Sao Paulo, i.e. I’m back in Brazil. One shower, sleep and breakfast later, and I’m human again.

On my previous trip I flew to Rio. This time I’m starting with Sao Paulo. I figure that if you’re gonna do something, i.e. write about South American music, you might as well do it properly. And seeing how many of the artists I’ve been listening to recently, e.g. Karina Buhr, Tulipa Ruiz, Tom Zé, Mauricio Takara, are all based in Sao Paulo, it is the perfect place to be.

Deadliest Journeys: Brazil

23 Dec

I did just found this video in my drafts folder. I had completely forgotten but I wanted to post this video of two seperate journeys in Brazil’s Amazonas region. One story is of the “riberinhos” who make a living from selling goods on tourist boats going down the river. Their ability to paddle over to these huge boats and get onboard is incredible! The second story is of two old fellas, Amerigo and Big Yuse, who head off down the Amazon to find gold – the classic get-rich-quick scheme. Fair to say, it doesn’t quite work out! Here’s the blurb for the film, followed by the film itself:

Meet 14-year-old Jesse. Like the other “riberinhos,” or river dwellers, he learned to swim and paddle before he could walk. Alongside other children as young as five, he rows for hours a day on the Tajaparu River, risking death trying to fasten his tiny canoe onto fast moving tourist boats and freight barges. The children hope to earn a few pennies for their families, selling jungle delicacies to the passengers and crew. But what happens when Jesse pushes his luck too far?

Eat, Drink and Be Merry In Rio

10 Nov

For those of you who know and love the ‘Marvellous City’, it may come as no surprise that it was recently voted the world’s happiest city in a survey conducted for and published by Forbes.com. Rio has an infectious energy, a buzz that imbues you with a feel-good vibe for weeks after you leave. Music and dancing plays a good part in that but happiness also comes from eating and drinking well, and Rio certainly has no shortages of fantastic eateries and bars that enable you to lead the good life. Discover the best that Rio has to offer and eat, drink and be merry!


One of Rio’s more affluent neighbourhoods, Leblon is home to some of Rio’s best restaurants and bars. This area is a foodie’s heaven but if your wallet doesn’t quite match your taste buds, most restaurants offer a lunchtime three-course, pre-fix menu for a fraction of the price that you will be charged at dinner. One of the best, both for the quality of the Italian/Brazilian fusion food and the stunning decor, not to mention the great people-watching potential (the patrons are made up of Rio’s young and beautiful), is Zuka. Either pre- or post-dinner, head on down to the Academia da Cachaça, a Leblon institution which sells 500 types of cachaça, a Brazillian rum made from sugar cane.

Leblon Beach[flickr size=”small”]http://www.flickr.com/photos/nosdamontanha/12637965/


The beach is lined with some of the best hotels in Rio de Janeiro and sun-worshippers and surfers flock to Ipanema at the weekend. There are plenty of eating and drinking options on the beach itself but you can’t visit Ipanema without having a drink in Bar Garota de Ipanema. In its previous incarnation as Vellosa Bar, ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ was penned here, hence the reason for its change of name. Once you’ve had a drink or two and hummed along to the classic bossa nova song, indulge in a Brazilian feast at Porcão, a traditional churrascaria where you can eat as much barbecued meat as you can fit in!


This district in the Centro neighbourhood houses some architecturally beautiful buildings dating back to the emergence of the republic but it’s when the sun goes down that the area really comes to life, for Lapa is also known for its nightlife. Clubs, bars and restaurants fill with the sounds of samba music but one of the best is surely Café Sacrilégio. Samba, choro, maxixe, waltz and polka beats are all played by the brilliant live band in this cafe housed in a renovated heritage building. Line your stomach and fuel up in preparation for all that dancing at Nova Capela, for some typical Carioca cuisine.

Rio is bursting with excellent places to chow down and drink up, whether you’re after something upmarket at a a Michelin star restaurant in a Rio de Janeiro hotel, or a simple salad and a Caipirinha at a beachfront cafe. Eat like a king, have a few drinks and pull on your dancing shoes to end the perfect Rio night with a spot of salsa.

The Sheer Size of the Amazon

20 Sep

I’m currently reading Amazon Watershed by George Monbiot. A truly revelatory book I will talk more about once I’ve finished reading it. Before that though I wanted to share a few paragraphs from it which really illustrate its sheer size:

“In the far north-west of Brazil [there is] a tributary [of the Amazon] called the Rio Tiquié, which is a little longer than the River Thames, but narrower in the lower reaches.

The Tiquié flows into the Uaupés, an unremarkable Amazonian river of around three times the length of the Thames. The Uaupés is itself a tributary of the Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon. The Rio Negro is the second largest river in the world, with a discharge slightly greater than that of the Mississippi, or greater than all the rivers of Europe combined. When it reaches the main river, having travelled 2400 kilometres from Colombia, the Negro, impressive as it is, adds only 15 per cent to the Amazon’s volume.

During the wet season as much as one fifth of the world’s freshwater may be flowing through the Amazon. Eight hundred kilometres inland it is as wide as the English Channel. In the river’s mouth there is an island larger than Denmark, or twice the size of New Hampshire; and the river’s discharge is visible 300 kilometres out to sea. The Rio Tiquié, a tributary of a tributary of a tributary of the River Amazon, is called a stream by some of the people living there.”

So, pretty big then!